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Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, C.M.F., Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, was born on 6 January 1932 in Gagos do Jarmelo, Portugal. He was ordained for the Claretians on 16 March 1957 and holds a licentiate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University and a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas, Rome.

After teaching metaphysics for a year at the Claretian seminary in Marino, Italy, he was assigned to the Claretianum, Rome, where he taught fundamental and sacramental theology for 10 years. He later taught sacramental theology at the Pontifical Urbanian University, where he also served as rector (1977-80, 1980-83 and 1986-88). He is the author of many books and scholarly articles.

In 1983 he was Special Secretary of the VI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

On 26 May 1988 he was appointed Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education and titular Archbishop of Thuburnica, receiving episcopal ordination on 2 July.

He served as Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints from 30 May 1998 to 9 July 2008.

He participated in the conclave of April 2005, which elected Pope Benedict XVI.

Created and proclaimed Cardinal by St. John Paul II in the consistory of 21 February 2001,of the Title of the Suburbicarian Church of Palestrina (24 February 2009).